the Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew used for Sinaiticus?

Steven Avery

My understanding is that there are about 20 known mss. of the Shem Tob Matthew. This is considering the possibility that one was used by Benedict on Mt. Athos. And thus helped supply oddball readings into Sinaiticus. The point of Peterson about omissions being a common error is sound, up to a point.

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (1995)
By George Howard
internet text

I. Shem-Tob and Codex Sinaiticus25 I have isolated five readings in Shem-Tob’s Matthew that are found elsewhere only in Codex Sinaiticus ( = Codex 01). An additional four are found in Codex Sinaiticus plus one or more of the Egyptian versions and a few minor witnesses. I list them here, using NA27 as a basis for the collation.

Codex 01 and Heb Matt
7:27 (Grk) omit 01* Heb Matt
13:44 (Grk) omit 01* Heb Matt
21:17 (Grk) omit 01* Heb Matt 25
23:4 (Grk) 01; + (Heb) Heb Matt

Codex 01, Egyptian Versions, and Heb Matt

The agreement between Codex Sinaiticus and Shem-Tob’s text is significant. Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in the middle of the nineteenth century by Constantine von Tischendorf at the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. Originally dating to the fourth century, a group of correctors, working perhaps at Caesarea, revised the text in the sixth or seventh century. The history of the manuscript after that time is unknown. The type of text it represents, Alexandrian with a strain of “Western” type readings, fell out of general use during the Middle Ages and was replaced by the Byzantine text. Codex Sinaiticus somehow came to St. Catherine’s monastery during the medieval period and remained virtually unknown to all but the monastery’s monks until the nineteenth century.29 The disparity in time and geography between Shem-Tob and Codex Sinaiticus strongly suggests that the polemist had no direct knowledge of or contact with this biblical manuscript. The roots for their agreement, therefore, must go back to the early centuries of the Christian era.
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Steven Avery

Here was how William L. Peterson responded (not putting in the Alephs yet).

Some Observations on a Recent Edition of and Introduction to Shem-Tob's "Hebrew Matthew" (1999)
William L. Petersen
The Pennsylvania State University
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies Parallels with Codex Sinaiticus (), 01)

63. Another of Howard's lists consists of five parallels with Greek Codex Sinaiticus (), 01). To Howard, these five parallels are "significant" (Howard 1995: 192), for they once again link Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew with a text of Christian antiquity. Howard writes:

The type of text [Codex Sinaiticus] represents, Alexandrian with a strain of "Western" type readings, fell out of general use during the Middle Ages and was replaced by the Byzantine text. . . . The disparity in time and geography between Shem-Tob and Codex Sinaiticus strongly suggests that [Shem-Tob] had no direct knowledge of or contact with this biblical manuscript. The roots for their agreement, therefore, must go back to the early centuries of the Christian era (ibid.: 192, italics added).

Howard also states that these five readings are "found elsewhere only in Codex Sinaiticus" (ibid.: 191); in other words, they are unique to Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew and Codex Sinaiticus. Critique of the Parallels with Codex Sinaiticus

64. None of these five readings shows up in the Liège Harmony, and your author has not invested the time necessary to check them against the twenty or so harmonies and other texts and editions necessary to test Howard's assertion. The possibility exists, however, that--as in the two other cases where Howard claimed uniqueness for his parallels--upon examination these readings will also appear in other documents. But leaving that speculation aside, a new problem bedevils this list. No less than four of these five readings are omissions (Howard's other lists also contain omissions: his list of parallels with the Vetus Syra contains three, his list of Vetus Latina parallels has four, his Thomas list has five omissions, etc.). Including omissions in such lists ignores two elementary canons of textual criticism.

65. First, it ignores the dictum that arguments from omissions are intrinsically weak. This is because omissions can arise from any number of reasons other than an omission in the exemplar: from fatigue, parablepsis, lacunae, homoioarcton, homoioteleuton, shortage of materials, etc.; none of these requires an omission in the archetype. In short, an omission marks a lack of evidence. (On when and with what restrictions omissions might be used in textual arguments, see Petersen 1985: 108-109.)

66. Second, and even more to the point, Howard appears oblivious to the fact that Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew is, by and large, an abbreviating text. He never comments upon this distinctive and patently obvious feature of its text (see supra, sec. 1.2.2). Even under the best of circumstances, arguments from an omission are highly suspect; in a case such as this, where the document itself is (generally speaking) an abbreviating text, venturing an argument from an omission is absurd.
George Howard:

A Response to William L. Petersen’s Review of Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
George Howard
University of Georgia

28. I find this to be a very strange statement. Does Petersen actually believe that the Middle Dutch Liège Harmony is a "Matthean witness?" It strikes me as inappropriate to describe a gospel harmony as a "Matthean witness." Usually, we reserve this label for such documents as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. But Petersen wishes to extend it to include the Middle Dutch Liège Harmony. I reviewed my list of readings and found that almost all of them belong to the double or triple traditions of the synoptic gospels. Just how the Middle Dutch Liège Harmony can be a Matthean witness in the double and triple traditions, where words and phrases of the synoptic gospels are intertwined and overlapped, is unclear.
Also the consideration of rope and camel, a favorite of Simonides, is often discussed in the semitic languages. Afaik, George Howard, however, does not go into discussion of this from the Hebrew Matthew.

Steven Avery

Nerdy Theology Majors

Zsolt Salontai
Hi All,
Is anybody here familiar with the scholarship of Nehemiah Gordon? It was suggested to me by a friend that this particular scholar has evidence of a Hebrew Matthew, even going as far as to state that there are 28 extant manuscript copies of a Hebrew translation of Matthew dating back to the medieval period where they were transcribed by copyists and preserved unto today.
I am quite incredulous concerning the claim. He seems like a conspiracy theorist/fringe scholar. Nevertheless, this particular friend takes his work seriously. I am familiar with the early citations from Fathers such as Origen about a possible Hebrew origin for Matthew and the evidence for an Aramaic/Hebrew oral history regarding the gospel sayings that have been preserved for us today in Greek, Coptic, Georgian, and Latin. However, I haven't come into contact with any serious scholarly evidence for an extant Hebrew Gospel.
Nehemiah Gordon's thesis is outlined in this particular book.
Would be happy to receive some further insight on this matter.
Thanks in advance!

Steven Avery
Nehemia Gordon's OT scholarship is generally very good. He is a major source of information on the Tetragram issues, supporting Yehovah, and considering Yahweh as non-Hebrew and even the equivalent of Jupiter.

He writes well on issues like the Elohim plurality question, the Talmudic extra burdens (seethe a kid in its mother's milk.) and similar Rabbinic-Karaite issues, although usually informally.

When it comes to the New Testament, it is a bit different. The 23 mas. are all the Shem-Tob Hebrew, from c. 1380. The text was included in the anti-missionary polemic Even Bohan (The Touchstone) by Shem Tob Ibn Shaprut (This text has many variant corruptions that its Christian evangelical supporters generally do not know about, or do not discuss.) The general scholarship, other than George Eulan Howard (1935-2018), has been that the work is simply a translation from Medieval Latin. William Horbury (b. 1942) and William Petersen (1950-2006) wrote contra the George Howard theory, Petersen being the more hostile. To be fair, a 1999 paper by Robert Frederick Shedinger,(b. 1959) tries to bolster the theory of an ancient Hebrew substratum behind the Shem-Tob mss in at least two papers. He looks at textual readings that lack any expected Byzantine or Vulgate base. And Shedinger also mentions a generally favorable review of the work of Howard by Daniel J. Harrington (1940-2014). There is also a 1988 review by Shaye J. D. Cohen - (b. 1948) and also Hebrew Matthew and Matthean Communities by Debra Fay Scoggins.

Okay, I did not expect to write so much on the Shem-Tob.

That book mentioned from Nehemia is a short book, 16 pages, and is available in Kindle for $3.

Personally, I do not see the Shem-Tob Matthew as a corrector for the canonical Greek Matthew. Nehemia may be a bit sensationalist as to the import of this Hebrew Matthew.

His support of Yehovah (or Jehovah) remains extremely strong.


The Naming of Jesus in Hebrew Matthew
Nehemia Gordon

A Further Consideration of the Textual Nature of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew (1999)
Robert F. Shedinger

Hebrew Matthew and Matthean Communities
Debra Fay Scoggins

A Hebrew Gospel of Matthew: Even Bohan
James Tabor

Some Observations on a Recent Edition of and Introduction to Shem-Tob's "Hebrew Matthew" (1998)
William L. Petersen
The Pennsylvania State University
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies

A Response to William L. Petersen's Review of Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (1999)
George Howard

A Note On Codex Sinaiticus and Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew (1992)
George Howard

"The Textual Relationship Between p45 and Shem Tobs Hebrew Matthew," New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 58-71.
(text may not be easily available)

Hebrew Gospel of Mathew - Part One.pdf
by George Howard
posted by Antonio Sorbera

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (2005)
George Howard
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Steven Avery

James Tabor

Bibliographic Notes on Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew
Howard, George. The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press; Louvain: Peeters, 1988.
Reviewed by William L Petersen (then at UND) JBL 108:4 (1989): 722-726. Peterson argues that the Dutch Liége Harmony (copied ca. 1280), contains many parallesl to ST, thus showing it is not so “primitive” after all in its unique readings. ST is derived from medieval traditions allied with the Vetus Latina, Vetus Syra, and Diatessaron.
__________. Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. 2nd edition. GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.
Petersen, William. “The Vorlage of Shem-Tob’s ‘Hebrew Matthew.” NTS 44 (1998): 490-512.
Howard, George. “A Primitive Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and the Tol’doth Yeshu,” NTS 34 (1988): 60-70.
__________. “A Note on the Short Ending of Matthew,” Harvard Theologial Review 81 (1988): 117-20.
__________.A Note on Codex Sinaiticus and Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew.” Novum Testamentum 34 (1992): 46-47.
__________. “A Note on Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew and the Gospel of John.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 47 (1992): 117-26.
__________. “The Pseudo-Clementine Writings and Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew.” NTS 40 (1994): 622-28.
__________. “Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew and Early Jewish Christianity.” JSNT 70 (1998): 3-20.
Horbury, William. “The Hebrew Text of Matthew in Shem Tob Ibn Shaprut’s Even Bohan,” in W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Gospels according to St. Matthew. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988), pp. 729-38.
Shedinger, R. F. “The Textual Relationship between P45 and Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew.” NTS 43 (1997): 58-71.

Notes on Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew
The 14th century polemical treatise Even Bochan [Isaiah 28:16] written by Shem-Tob ben-Isaac ben-Shaprut Ibn Shaprut], a Castilian Jewish physician, living later in Aragon. 12th/ 13th book contains a Hebrew version of the complete text of Matthew. EB completed in 1380 CE, revised in 1385 & 1400. This is not to be confused with the Sebastian Münster (1537; dedicated to Henry VIII under title The Torah of the Messiah); or Jean du Tillet (1555) versions of Hebrew Matthew. In 1690 Richard Simon mistakenly identified Shem-Tob’s Matthew with the versions of Münster and du Tillet.
Howard’s edition based on nine manuscripts of ST dating from 15th to 17th centuries; namely British Library Add no. 26964 for chapters 1:1-23:22; and JTS Ms. 2426 for 23:23-end.
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Steven Avery

The Name of God - Nehemia Gordon (Open Door Series 3) -

There is a section here on the Shem Tob Matthew.

Steven Avery

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
by George Howard







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Steven Avery



Matthew 7:27
(does not show Sinaiticus omission)

Matthew 7:27 (AV)
And the rain descended,
and the floods came,
and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell:
and great was the fall of it.

Omission -


Matthew 13:44

Matthew 13:44 (AV)
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.


Matthew 21:17

Matthew 21:17 (KJV)
And he left them,
and went out of the city into Bethany;
and he lodged there.


Matthew 23:4
NA-28 Sinaiticus singular

φορτία + μεγαλα
burdens great (instead of back-breaking)

Matthew 23:4 (AV)
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,
and lay them on men's shoulders;
but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."φο...IBAzQuMpgBAKABAcgBCMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz-serp


Matthew 24:35

Matthew 24:35 (AV)
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.




Matthew 5:30

Matthew 5:30 (AV)
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off,
and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish,
and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.



Matthew 6:16

Matthew 6:16 (KJV)
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:
for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Minor - adds and - skip it


Matthew 9:10

Matthew 9:10 (AV)
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house,
behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Omission in both - coming ones


Matthew 9:24

Matthew 9:24 (AV)
He said unto them, Give place:
for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth.
And they laughed him to scorn.



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